Roy Halladay

            When I heard last Tuesday afternoon that Blue Jay pitching great Roy Halladay had been killed in a plane crash, my memory instantly flew back to the morning of February 3, 1959, when I learned that Buddy Holly had died a few hours earlier, also in the crash of a small plane. Buddy Holly remains one of my all-time favourite entertainers, and Roy Halladay will remain one of my all-time favourite athletes.

            I never met Halladay, but based on the heart-felt comments of those who knew him well, it seems even his incredible athletic skills were surpassed by his attributes as a wonderful human being.

            His untimely death rekindled the debate over who was the greatest home-grown Blue Jays pitcher ever: Halladay or Dave Stieb. An objective analysis of their respective stats doesn’t clearly settle the matter, so this debate will go on.

            My use of the adjective “home-grown” was entirely deliberate. There’s no disputing who was the greatest pitcher to ever don a Blue Jays uniform; like him or hate him, it was Roger Clemens.

Where Were Shapiro And Atkins?

            While thoughtful tributes to Halladay rolled out all over North America, I heard not a word from Blue Jay president Mark Shapiro or general manager Ross Atkins.

            The team put out a tepid press release, the tenor of which was at about the level of one announcing a mail clerk had retired.

            That Shapiro and Atkins weren’t in Toronto during Halladay’s time with the Blue Jays is no excuse. They’re in Toronto now.

Some Advice For Environment Minister McKenna

            Catherine McKenna has proven to be a competent cabinet minister in a very difficult ministry. But she recently made a couple of heretofore uncharacteristic missteps.

             First, in a fit of pique during a news conference in Vancouver, she fumbled a golden opportunity by becoming confrontational with Rebel Media reporter Christopher Wilson.

            Rebel Media is the somewhat spurious news organization that hung the disrespectful moniker “Climate Barbie” on Ms. McKenna. When Wilson identified himself as being with Rebel Media, she refused to answer his questions before painfully extracting a promise from him that he wouldn’t refer to her as “Climate Barbie,” and then badgering him to promise that his colleagues at Rebel Media would follow suit, which she should know that he’s in no position to do.

            Because no reporter ever wants to miss a potentially interesting exchange, attention peaked as soon as Wilson identified himself, which was the golden opportunity that Minister McKenna messed up.

            Had she said nothing about the “Climate Barbie” label, or better still, just mocked it as a lame attempt at cleverness, she would have come off as confident and mature. Instead, by getting into a schoolyard-type snit, she came off as juvenile and thin-skinned.

            The second gaffe was after someone on her staff tweeted congratulations to the murderous regime in Syria for signing on to the Paris climate accord. Minister McKenna blamed her staff for this patently ill-considered tweet. Effective leaders don’t stoop to ascribing blame to members of their team; they simply apologize for the mistake and move on.

Speaking of Cabinet Ministers

            This got me thinking about the Trudeau cabinet as a whole. My assessment follows

            Impressive: Chrystia Frieland, foreign affairs. Ralph Goodale, public safety. Ahmed Hussen, immigration. Jane Philpott, now minister of indigenous services but formerly health minister, where she shone.

            Disappointing: Bill Morneau, whose clumsy arrogance as finance minister is without parallel. Scott Brisson, head of the treasury board, who, when he does speak, seems incapable of uttering anything beyond prescribed talking points, and even then often comes across as a hypocrite.

            Dreadful: Bardish Chagger, house leader. Maryam Monsef, who is struggling as minister for the status of women, and was worse than dreadful when she was minister of democratic institutions. Melanie Joly, heritage minister.

            In the category of “What Was Trudeau Thinking:” Carolyn Bennett, a medical doctor representing one of the wealthiest ridings in Canada, situated in the heart of Toronto, as minister of indigenous relations and northern affairs. Diane Lebouthiller, who, as minister of revenue, is in charge of the Canadian Revenue Agency. Although the CRA is mired in various income tax controversies, she’s been silent and invisible. If the rumour is true that the reason she’s in hiding is because she can’t speak English, then the answer to what was Trudeau thinking is clear. He wasn’t.

            The remaining ministers fall into one of two categories: either I know nothing about them, or they’ve performed about as expected.